Even poor old Iain Banks (The Wasp Factory) is dying of cancer. What the fuck kind of filthy demon has crawled into the guts of 2013's maiden quarter?
I'll miss Ebert a helluva lot. I've followed him for thirty years. I have his books, I read his reviews religiously every Friday, and I visit his site Wednesdays in case he's posted something early (which he often did).
I first encountered him in '81 when I touched down in Detroit to begin a new life and 'Sneak Previews' came on the TV. The boys reviewed SCANNERS and gave SAVAGE WEEKEND a Dog of the Week award. After that, I was hooked, and I always hankered for those Dogs. The Dogs were made for my kind. Our kind, if you're reading this.
Having friends who agree with you on everything is not the point of friends. Sharing differences and engaging with those is the point. That's why I considered Ebert a twice removed "friend". Yes, Ebert hated most slashers, though not as much as Siskel (both admired HALLOWEEN, remember!), and he did champion a few films not worth a damn, but he was a bloody decent writer, and he made a convincing case every time.
I'll never forget his FREEWAY (Mathew Bright) review where he pointed out that it's not WHAT the film is about, it's HOW it's about. Sounds a little cryptic at first glance, but makes total sense when you let the words cool. It's the unique angle a filmmaker brings to the work that makes the work great or deserving of steaming turd status. Ebert articulated that in every review.
To the painful end, Ebert soldiered on, sharing the load recently with Roeper and a few others, and reviewing stuff he was passionate about. He was a potent writer, a man who drew you into a literary conversation, not a monologue. I admired his conversational style, his easy-to-digest sentences that sprung from his heart and belly. He hungered for cinema. Like we all do.
He had a kinky side, too, and embraced some good old-fashioned depravity when he teamed up with Russ Meyer and his cinema of the massive mammary.
I don't trust a man who denies his depravities, and Ebert didn't. He was a man of truth. That's why he endured.
I'll really, really miss his intelligence, wit, and passion. He's one of the very few critics who went mainstream but retained his brain. And you never got the sense that he saw you sitting down there while he was up on high tossing you his crumbs.
RIP, Mr. Ebert. You really were one of us.